US-based NovoNutrients, an alternative proteins company, announced recently that it has secured $4.7 million in funding led by Hong Kong-based global venture firm, Happiness Capital.
Other participants in the funding round included E2JDJ and Marinya Capital, besides re-ups from SOSV’s IndieBio and the Grantham Environmental Trust. Existing investors of the company are Stanford Graduate School of Business Impact Fund, Purple Orange Ventures, and Joyance Partners.
The company earlier raised $4.3 million through venture capitalist firms as well as in non-dilutive, corporate project funding commitments.
NovoNutrients uses industrial carbon dioxide emissions, cheap hydrogen and naturally occurring microbes to create high-grade proteins for human and animal consumption.
The recent funding will be used by the Californian company to complete its industrial pilot program, which captures CO2 emissions, at an oil and gas and/or cement-related plant. This will enable NovoNutrients to start raising a series A financing later this year.
“NovoNutrients has taken major steps towards becoming one of the world’s biggest suppliers of innovative protein ingredients by 2030,” said Eric Ng, CEO of Happiness Capital. “The executive team has achieved tremendous support, not only from us, but also from prior visionary investors, as well as project funding from powerful corporate partners.”
“NovoNutrients’ uniqueness,” continued Eric Ng, “is the combination of its current focus on alternative protein, its use of carbon capture and inexpensive hydrogen, and its creation of a robust platform for making both natural and synthetic biology products. Beyond nutrition, we expect its platform to make other biobased chemicals and materials. Its tech is exceedingly cost effective and promising for addressing increasing global demand and greenhouse gas emissions.”
NovoNutrients plans to co-locate its bioreactors and systems at industrial sites that produce high levels of CO2, a greenhouse gas. At global scale, NovoNutrients plants have the potential to reduce those industrial CO2 emissions by gigatons, said a company statement.
NovoNutrients uses a proprietary fermentation technology, and feeds naturally occurring microbes on a diet that is mainly CO2 and hydrogen to produce a variety of highly nutritious protein flours, which can be used in foods like plant-based burgers as well as animal feed.
“The progress at NovoNutrients stands on the shoulders of three generations of fermentation pioneers that were mainly in biofuels. Now, we believe we have found the path to high-value products and affordable industrial scale, by using greenhouse gases instead of corn,” said NovoNutrients’ CEO, David Tze.
“In the three years since our November 2018 Indiebio demo day, we’ve prototyped protein-based products that have a market value 10x our original one, which was targeted at replacing ingredients made from wild-caught fish. We have been able to do that without increasing our cost of fermentation. We are rapidly accelerating to industrial scale. Our current pilot project is centered on a 1,000-liter bioreactor. Shortly thereafter, we will stand-up a 20,000-liter industrial demo,” Tze added.
According to the company, the amino-acid profiles of NovoNutrients protein ingredients are superior to those from soy.
It also plans to make non-protein products needed for industries including cosmetics, chemicals, and materials.